Considering Psychodynamic Therapy for Older Adults

Psychodyn Psychiatry. 2020 Summer;48(2):152-162. doi: 10.1521/pdps.2020.48.2.152.


As the neuroscientific bases for conceptualizing and treating psychiatric and psychological conditions have become increasingly emphasized in recent years, application of relatively more traditional theoretical frameworks, such as psychodynamic theory, has somewhat fallen out of favor. Nonetheless, the effectiveness of psychodynamic therapy in both short- and long-term episodes of care has been established in numerous outcome studies and meta-analyses from the last two decades. Specifically, psychodynamic therapy may be particularly well suited for use with older adults (ages 65 years and older) for a number of clinically and logistically indicated reasons. In this exploratory commentary piece, we consider the potential origins of the notion that psychodynamic therapy may not be well suited for use with older adults. We then present evidence in favor of utilizing psychodynamic interventions with older adults. In doing so, we hope to spur critical thought among clinicians who work with older adults and encourage continued research in this area to strengthen the existing evidence base.

Keywords: interventions; older adults; psychodynamic; psychotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic*